Harper Government renews commitment to the International Space Station

Québec City, Quebec, February 29, 2012 – The Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Canadian Space Agency, today announced Canada's intention to renew its commitment to the International Space Station (ISS). Alongside Steve MacLean, President of the Canadian Space Agency, Minister Paradis also unveiled two unique space projects, Microflow and Lab on a CD, designed to accelerate how patients are diagnosed, in space and on Earth.

"We are helping to maintain Canada's leadership in space technology and its every day critical applications", declared Minister Paradis. "Jobs and growth are a top priority for our Government. We also recognize that maintaining Canada's place in technology leadership is part of the solution for economic growth and prosperity."

"State-of-the-art medical technology is an area in which our country can become a world leader," added Steve MacLean, President of the Canadian Space Agency. "The technology solutions that provide a rapid medical diagnosis for an astronaut onboard the International Space Station could one day be standard equipment in your doctor's office."

Canada has been a proud partner of the International Space Station since 1998. The ISS allows scientists and engineers to discover entirely new materials, and processes. As a permanent space laboratory, the ISS enables research to be conducted in a variety of fields such as life sciences, materials, Earth observation and astronomy. Canada's contributions to the ISS include the sophisticated technologies like the Mobile Servicing System (MSS).

Lab on a CD and Microflow, will use space as a test environment to develop smaller, cheaper, and faster medical technology that can process and analyze medical samples aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Lab on a CD, a project led by Dr. Michel G. Bergeron of the Infectious Disease Research Centre at Laval University, is a prototype of an ultrafast, highly sensitive and fully automated medical diagnostic test unit. The technology is close to a major breakthrough: real-time diagnostics of infectious diseases at the patient's point of care. Lab on a CD can perform sophisticated genetic analysis of samples in just minutes. With $150,000 in funding from the Canadian Space Agency, Dr. Bergeron and his team have successfully tested the technology in microgravity during parabolic flights. Supported by Canada's Cooperation Agreement with the European Space Agency, the project has received $1.1 million to carry out the development of this prototype through the European Life and Physical Sciences Program. Through this program the project is currently developing a concept for a system that will perform bioanalysis on the ISS.

Microflow is a technology demonstration platform developed by the National Optics Institute (INO). Following an initial investment of $300,000 for testing, the Canadian Space Agency awarded INO a contract of $2.3 million in 2011 to design, build, and test the first generation of a transportable flow cytometer for use on the ISS. Flow cytometers are used for a range of bioanalysis and clinical applications to diagnose health disorders. The goal of Microflow is to test INO's novel fibre-optic approach, enabling the realization of a miniaturized, portable and robust cytometer technology. This technology is ideal for use in space and in-field terrestrial bioanalysis. The Microflow test platform will be introduced on the ISS with Canadian Space Agency Astronaut Chris Hadfield, in December 2012.

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For more detailed project information, please visit this link.

For video provided by Laval University and INO: ftp://ftp.asc-csa.gc.ca/users/Medias/pub/20120229_biomedical_conference/

For more information:

Canadian Space Agency
Media Relations Office
Telephone: 450-926-4370
E-mail:
Website: www.asc-csa.gc.ca